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NCERT move 'ignores' pre-school education, seeks to add 3 yrs to formal schooling

By Prof Tarun Kanti Naskar* 
The National Curriculum Framework for School Education (NCFSE), the 628-page document circulated by the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) on 8 April last, is framed on the basis of whatever was spelt out in the texts of National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 on school education. By this the Central government ignored the countrywide protests that have been voiced by the teachers, educationists and intellectuals since the publication of draft NEP 2019 and announcement of NEP on 29 July 2020.
Whatever may be the tall talks uttered in the preamble of the NCFSE with a design to mislead the people or the desperate attempt to give a theoretical basis on different aspects of the policy concerning school education, people will find that the newly introduced (5+3+3+4)-system would increase the period of formal school education from 12 years to 15 years.
The document is silent on where the children within the age group of 3 to 5 years would be admitted during the early childhood care and education (ECCE) period, called the Foundational Stage, as there is no government funded system for this stage. 
Guardians from the marginalized section therefore apprehend that they would be forced to admit their wards in anganwadi centres having workers and helpers for preparing and serving cooked food for pregnant mothers and children and no infrastructure for teaching-learning.
They would not get the minimum dose of education, let alone “multi-faceted, multi-level, play-based, activity-based and inquiry-based learning”, as highlighted in the policy statement. In fact, this would lead to mushrooming of private-run Montessori-type of schools giving further fillip to rampant privatization and commercialization of education. In Grades 1 and 2 of this stage there will be no examination or test, and so the method of assessment is not clear.
The “Preparatory Stage”, i.e., from Grades 3-5, will also be mainly “play-, discovery-, and activity-based pedagogical and curricular style” with introduction of minimum books. Also at this stage it is not specified whether examination or pass-fail system will be there.
Decision would lead to mushrooming of private-run Montessori-type of schools, give further fillip to rampant privatization, commercialization
Fully textbook based teaching will start from Grade 6 onward, called “Middle Stage”. So in the first two stages there would be virtually no teaching and learning. “Formal and explicit” assessments will be there in the Middle Stage, though it is not spelt out whether a pass-fail system will exist.
Far more affected would be the “Secondary Stage” consisting of Grades 9-12. Here, at the end of Grade 10, students will be allowed to exit and reenter into Grade 11 after a lapse of time, but the document is conspicuously silent on whether there would be state or central level Board-conducted Madhymik examinations, currently in vogue passing which a certificate is obtained.
This certificate is treated as a minimum qualification for some government or non-government jobs. If there is no such examination, students would have to wait for two more years for getting a school-leaving certificate which would cause more dropouts.
The existing system of streams like science, arts/humanities and commerce will be done away with in the name of "multidisciplinary study" with emphasis on vocational education and students would be allowed to opt for subjects like say, physics with fashion-design and such other delinked subjects. 
Also, there will be choice-based courses and semester systems in Grades 11 and 12, which have already been proved in the under-graducate (UG) college-system to be obstructing acquisition of comprehensive knowledge.
*General secretary, All India Save Education Committee (AISEC)



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